Edison's revolutionary inventions established major new industries, including sound recording, motion pictures, and the ability to see in the dark without risking burning your house down.
Almost as long as Edison's list of patents, though, is the list of d*** moves he used to pull. Atop this list is his penchant for "testing" the safety of alternating current by electrocuting animals.
At the turn of the 20th century, Edison was making a mint from the use of direct current (DC). However, rival scientists George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla (a former Edison employee) had invented a newer, safer form of electricity, alternating current (AC). Rather than say, "Oh, hey, a way to use a lamp without the risk of frying yourself? Good job. I'll just make huge piles of money with my other 1,092 inventions," Edison declared alternating current to be more dangerous than direct current.
Rather than base his claims on scientific theory (because the theory wasn't on his side), Edison tried to sway the public through a series of highly visible experiments. Edison would conduct tests on animals, consisting of shocking them with alternating current until they died. We are unsure as to whether Edison laughed maniacally at these animals' frizzy hair and, erm, shocked expressions. But what we do know is that this culminated in the electrocution of a popular beloved Coney Island attraction: Topsy the Elephant. Topsy had committed the heinous crime of killing a handler who tried to feed her a lit cigarette. When presented with news of this travesty, Edison said "I've got a great idea on how to kill that elephant!" He even made and distributed a movie of the elephant being slapped with 6,600 volts of AC. That film was titled, "Electrocuting an Elephant," which proved that Edison was much more creative at inventing than he was at screenwriting.
Edison has to be the only person who can get away with this. If someone made a staple gun that was safer, the original inventor couldn't get away with saying "No it's dangerous, I'll prove it," then stapling stray animals. In the end, Edison's experiments failed to sway the public's opinion, except on the issue of whether Thomas Alva was a jerk.